Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Two in Three Million

It was a soul enriching vacation. Tourists we were, with little time to sit, to be, to reflect; yet awe and wonder is what Moe and I experienced every day we spent in the natural ecosystems of Colorado and Wyoming, even with other tourists around. 

After our nephew's breathtakingly memorable wedding on a big flat rock overhang on Shadowcliff Mountain, above Grand Lake, Colorado, in a wind so high we feared the bride and groom and minister might be blown off their rock, we took a leisurely two-day drive through open range and sage brush flats,

   

toward Jackson Hole and the fabled national parks of northwest Wyoming, Grand Teton and Yellowstone. In the Jackson Hole area we stayed for eight days in a one-of-a-kind B&B inn, Becker's Teton Treehouse, hand-built on a mountain side, in a lodgepole pine forest by the innkeeper himself from lodgepoles on the property. Built on the ground, yes, but 95 steps up the mountain from Heck of a Hill Road, above Wilson, Wyoming. 


For guests, the steps are the only access to a house so tightly surrounded by trees that from no single vantage point could you see the whole thing. Having six guestrooms on different levels, unique interior stairways, and multiple balconies in the treetops, it's like The Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, only it has way better amenities. A real storybook adventure. 


Each room is named for a different bird, native to the lodgepole forest. Our room was The Hummingbird.


Aptly named. Rufous, Broadtailed, Caliope, and Black-chinned hummers came to the feeders all day every day, dive-buzzing around our heads on the balconies. Of the four hummer species, the Rufous males were the most aggressive, and exciting to watch. They almost looked like furry rust-brown bats, and I thought at first they were, until I got a close-up look at them at the feeders. Since we only see Ruby-throats in the southeast, these hummers were a grand unexpected pleasure and only the first of many during our eight day stay, making me itch to return to blogging. 

This is probably a female Caliope, but not sure because the females all look alike.


The second pleasure was meeting the innkeepers, 
Denny and Sally Becker.


He, a former wilderness guide and artisan builder; she, a former school principal and artisan baker; they were so knowledgeable about how to navigate the touristy areas of Jackson Hole, Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone, that we never once felt overwhelmed by crowds. Quite the opposite, we felt among a privileged few who had the opportunity to experience that magnificent landscape in a unique and special way via the able direction of a seasoned guide, all the while knowing we were were really just two of the three million annual visitors to the carefully preserved ecosystem. More unexpected pleasures of the Wyoming landscape in upcoming posts, with high hopes to stay more regularly at it, for a while at least:-). dkm

11 comments:

Niki Palmer said...

Hi Deb :D What a wonderful holiday. And what a fabulous treehouse. I hope we get to see more blog posts? :)

Jane Robertson said...

Oh wow!!! Love the beautifully crafted treehouse. Special accommodation, special hosts :-)))

dkm said...

Another unexpected pleasure to discover there are actually two loyal readers left out there after such a long break! So nice to hear from you, Niki and Jane. Your blogs continued to inspire me through last manuscript revision. Finished 12th draft, a major overhaul. 350 pages worth. Now in the hands of a trusted reader for one more critique and followup revision before sending to editor. Keep your fingers crossed. This vacation was reward for finishing---or rather---as my nine-year-old granddaughter toasted---"to Omi's so called finish!"

Jane Robertson said...

Now, we are going to hold you to that crucial phrase 'sending to the editor'. One followup revision then cast it to the jackals Deb :-)

Pukeko G said...

Welcome back for a start ! :o)) One of the horses you have first up looks like it has a mask on :) Another thing I wondered with that magnificent tree house .. how long are the trees around expected to last ? And all the best with the book. We are heading into a fairly cold and wet weekend ! :( CU

dkm said...

PG, According to wikipedia, the range of life expectancy for lodgepole pines is 150-500 years, depending on many different factors---including fire and pine bark beetle devastation. The foundation of the treehouse is on the ground, but if a fire happens, it will go up in flames along with the trees. Interestingly, the article also said these pines (pinus contorta) are illegal to plant, sell, or grow in New Zealand! Native to northwest U.S., they are invasive in other parts of the world.
Beetles and fire are not necessarily bad, if they only happen every few hundred years, because the trees depend on the high heat of a forest fire to release its seeds from the cone. The beetles kill the trees, making them dry and susceptible to fire when they need to be regenerated. Fascinating, the interdependence of beetle and tree and fire. But it makes me wonder how the pines can be invasive if they can only spread after a fire. Nonetheless, I won't bring you any pinecones when I come to visit!

dkm said...

And Jane, thanks for the nudge. Who knew it would be so intimidating to claim completion? There was such safety and comfort in the "drafting" process. But now, oh frightening now---what if I say I'm done and nobody likes it? Yikes!

Pukeko G said...

Fantastic thankyou Debs .. the trees will outlast us and the house so someone else can worry about the ultimate outcome in the forrest. :) If you did try and bring seed etc into nz you would likely be stopped at customs and get a wrap over the knuckles for trying. Not worth it. Any trees we plant from now on in our wee country zone will be indigenous :) .. or fruit trees etc.

dkm said...

Here's to indigenous planting only!--- in the interests of those future generations.

Jane Robertson said...

Hi again Deb. I think, once you have passed it on (I'm thinking publisher), there will be a sense of release. For a while anyway, it will be someone else's responsibility. If you would like a dry run (tho I'm sure you have lots of willing readers close to home) then I'm sure you would have 3 eager beaver readers here :-)

dkm said...

Many thanks for the kind offerJane. Just got critique back today from editor friend in writing group. She made some concrete suggestions that I recognize will tighten story and shouldn't take too much time. Then I think (hope) I will be ready to mail. Will keep you posted.